palm warbler

although i was able to overcome the hardest part of morning birdwatching - that is, actually waking up - i almost didn't go. the weather seemed too cold (temperature in the 40's) for humans, let alone birds. and normally i'd hear birds singing outside, but it was dead silent. then suddenly in the bathroom i heard some faint chirping, which finally made me decide to go out after all. i had on my new motorcycling jacket, and even though the temperature was much lower than last time, despite my lack of layering the jacket managed to keep me warm. my hands were a different story: although i had on my leather gloves, my hands were so cold i could've sworn i got frostbite.

a husband and wife two-person team led this morning's trip. the cemetery gates were actually still locked when we arrived at 6am; one of the birders (a group leader?) had a set of keys and opened the door for us. a few people were from last thursday's group, but most were new (at least to me). the guy with telephoto was back again (the other birders call him the "camera guy," unbeknownst to them i had my own camera plus 3 lenses on stand-by inside my bag. today's tour was more aggressive, with an emphasis on focused spotting guided by bird songs. "anyone's not seen the black-hooded warbler yet? you should get a good look. okay? let's move on then!" i suppose every group is different and there was a definite sense of urgency with today's bunch.

i don't talk too much on these outings, satisfied with just looking. birdwatching definitely trains you to be more observant. say what you will about these birders, but their attention to details is amazing; a rustling in a bush, a flash in the sky, a twitter of notes, and immediately they can lock onto the bird and tell you within a second what it is. it's pretty awe-inspiring to see naturing advanced to a sport. yet this isn't how i normally do things, at my own slow pace. however, without their help, i could never expect to see a third of all the migrating warbler species in new england within just a single morning, which is what happened today.

at about 9am the group disbanded. i made my way to the owl hole but didn't see anything. i then headed towards halcyon lake, where i got some good warbler photos last week. in a tree a spotted a bluejay. i'm not a big fan because they're a mean bird (ask anyone who's ever had a bird feeder before) and also they're fairly common but from a purely superficial standpoint, they're really beautiful. i still to this day will pick up a bluejay feather in the forest like i discovered a priceless treasure. just the fact that they're blue should make them pretty amazing; how many other blue animals can you think of?

i saw a rabbit running underneath a bush. i slowly inched my way closer so i could get a better look. it wasn't scared, and was actually grooming itself. it was probably watching me the whole time with its big eyes, sizing me up to be non-threatening. how emasculating is that, to be considered innocuous by a rabbit?

so here's today list (with common birds removed). the prettiest one was the black-hooded warbler (although you can't really compete with the wood duck, but i have seen them before). the most interesting was the great crested flycatcher, a rather large pale yellow bird that i'm surprised i've never seen before.

black and white warbler
black-hooded warbler
black-throated green warbler
cape may warbler
magnolia warbler
nashville warbler
palm warbler
prairie warbler
yellow-rumped warbler
wood duck
baltimore oriole
eastern kingbird
great blue heron (flying overhead)
great crested flycatcher
orchard oriole
red-eyed vireo
ruby-crested kinglet
warbling vireo

making a pitstop at the cafe, suhan was there asking me to help fix his laptop. with a report due tomorrow, naturally his computer decided to die last night, something about a corrupt sys driver file. the built-in system recovery could theoretically fix it but at the price of wiping the whole drive. the computer wouldn't boot in safe mode and when we tried to restart it from a system install disc, it'd crash as well. for the next 3 hours i spent trying to fix the machine. i went home to copy the offending sys file off of my PC, but the DOS prompt couldn't recognize the usb thumb drive. we removed the drive (that was a challenge, suhan had stripped the head when he tried to remove the drive himself) and put it in my photo storage device - it saw the drive but wouldn't allow us to look inside. finally we went to microcenter to buy an enclosure for the drive. the plan was to salvage any personal data before reformatting the drive and reinstalling the OS. back at my place, we tried copying over the damaged sys file again, which seemed to work (it didn't work when the now-external hard drive was attached to my macbook pro), but it still wouldn't reboot because more driver files were damaged. so in the end we copied over all my driver files, which seemed to do the trick and the machine started up as if nothing happened. i drove suhan back to the cafe before motorcycling back home.

client S wrote an e-mail to remind me that i had a delivery today. that was news to me. since i didn't get any bug reports, i thought they were still bug-testing the program, but apparently i did a good enough job that there were no bugs (which i sort of don't believe). what was left was so minor that the client didn't bother to remind me last week or check up on my status. fortunately i did do some work earlier (last week) and after i made a few bug fixes i uploaded a new build.

i did a water change on all my tanks except the minibow 7. in the same way that i sometimes clean my house for no reason just to procrastinate, i also "clean" my aquariums as well. i dumped out the water in the backyard, hoping that the fish waste i siphoned out will make good plant fertilizer. not having checked my guppies in a few days, i was surprised to find one of the females turned out to be a male. i quickly transferred him over to the male side. i also noticed there was another small fry in the tank, the alpha female having given birth to yet another guppy. i scooped it out and put it in the baby guppy tank. in hindsight that probably wasn't a good idea, because the "baby" guppies are big enough to consider the fry a tasty morsel, and i watched in horror as it ran a gauntlet of 35 hungry guppies chasing it around the tank. the fish world is a cruel world.

i also did a load of laundry. weird thing is when i dropped my clothes into the machine, i was shocked to find it was half filled with cold water, like it didn't drain properly the last time around. the timer's already kind of funny so i was really afraid maybe the machine had died. but after i let the rinse cycle run for a few minutes, it finally did drain all that water, before i started washing my clothes. what's even stranger is it actually completed the entire wash cycle, totally disregarding the fact that the timer motor is busted and normally i have to manually dial it to the spin cycle.

word on the street is our new england weather is going to warm up within the next few days. it can't come soon enough because ever since i turned off the heat, it's been freezing inside my house. i really should get a space heater but it's already may - do they even sell those now?

when i wake up so early it makes my days feel so long. the past week with all this morning birding action feels like i've been living 2 days for the price of 1. i'm not planning to do any birdwatching tomorrow, so looks like i'm going to get a good night's sleep.